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History from the source.
I have read with interest the article kindly reproduced from Which Kit magazine and would like to address a number of inconstancies. Over the many years we were in business we had a great deal to do with both the Kit magazines and spent many hours and much money with them marketing our services and the eventual Sienna as it is described in this article.

We spent a good deal of time correcting adverts and articles from both publishers and they invariably got a few things wrong in most cases, most were honest mistakes I believe but once published they took time to correct and by that time of course had either mislead or done damage that is difficult to repair as you have found in your most recent advertising misshape with one of the publishers.

It may not be well known but we started in fact in the village of Reply in Surrey after buying a Prova of Paul Lawrenson when I saw it at a show and I simply wanted to take one back to NZ when I returned. After struggling to complete the car myself I decided to employ some real engineers to assist as there were no way the kits at that time came with sufficient instructions or ready to install parts to make it a job for an amateur. It wasn’t until this first car of ours went to the first Stoneleigh show that we moved to Ranmore Common, little more than a double garage for 12 months before having to move to a very large premises in Send Marsh near Guildford. We had 17 employees at this stage.  In mid 1990 we moved to Sutton Veny in Wiltshire where cost were half that of the premises in Surrey.

While we were developing the Sienna we built about 6 of lee Nobles P4 Ferraris and a few Adams roadsters along with an assortment of repairs to part finished other manufacturers Cobras and Countach replicas from people who heard we could finish these very difficult to build cars.

My new team decided we could do a better job of all these but we stuck to the Countach and knew it would take a great deal of money and time to get a car completed to the level of engineering excellence the buyers wanted and also fit within the budget that most needed to make it affordable.

My partner and investor was a local man called Alan Lawson who collected classic cars and wanted to be involved in a company that could build what he wanted and in fact he funded nearly the whole operation. At this stage I would like to correct the article in that we voluntarily wound up the company and the only creditors were Alan and I, a search will show that there were no bad debts left and no one was left without having received their car, kit or money back.

Another anomaly was that whilst we did fabricate the chassis in house the original was designed by the now well known Lee Noble who owns and without whose help we could not have got the car going as well as we did. We did spend many hours working on making the car as road friendly as we could as Lee set out to design a chassis that was more at home on the track and as a result we had to make it more suitable to the bumps and vagaries of road work.

We closed up because after all the work and having delivered all that we were being asked by consumers no real volume of orders came in. We were constantly being under priced by Prova and Mirage who were keeping prices down by not putting any money into development. It is true that we had many people come to drive the car and went a way with a smile saying they would be back next week with their money but they failed to turn up and we would eventually see them at other shows poking around for bits admitting they bought a Prova or Mirage or in some cases and second hand unfinished kit of questionable origin.

We new most people were being told the car was easy to build in kit form and they believed the rhetoric not looking deeper than the brochures and fully built cars on show to their detriment. I wonder how many part built cars sit in back yards these days, including our own of course.

Funny thing was all these buyers that went else where for their basic kits came back to us sooner or later for help, our bolt on bits, radiators and other fittings that would make their kit go together much easier and be more reliably. We refused these sales suggesting they put more pressure on their current supplier to come up with the goods.

At the end of it we simply never sold enough kits or part built cars to recover the considerable sum that we had invested in development so we wound up the company while we could afford to and not risk other people’s money. The total sum invested in development was about £1,700,000 over 4 years plus a load of hard work, marriage problems for most of the guys as we lived and breathed the job and of course a load of fabulous memories.

Back to the car.
We went through three mould makers who all let us down whilst developing the moulds. They all promised delivery dates that were not met and they all took our money and caused yet more delays to launch. Nearly all the suppliers wanted large orders to make a significant price advantage and we did not have the orders to make it happen. However, we stuck it out and we worked night and day delivering the kits that we did have orders for and went to shows in Germany and the USA.

The cars we did sell went to very happy clients who told us they got exactly what they wanted and spent many hours enjoying the fun of owning the best that could be bought at the time. Some of our fully built cars cost more that £45K to complete to the clients very high specification and included new big block American engines, reworked gearboxes to handle the power, air conditioning, Connolly leather interior and the latest and best in car entertainment including reversing CD cameras fitted to the rear spoiler.

On the 22nd Feb 1991 we took the car to the Manchester Polytechnic department of Materials and Science as it was know then, who did the seat belt pull and chassis test on behalf of the ministry of transport to conform to the LVTA (low volume type approval) requirements at the time. I believe we may still be the only Countach replica to have achieved this test but happy to be corrected on this. The full test was done under regulation 14.02 EEC directive 76/115 as amended by 90/629 and FMV 210. We passed with flying colours in all respects for both seat belt anchorage and positioning and strength requirements.

There is so much more to tell but I know what its like watching other peoples holiday snap shots so I wont bore you all with the trivia unless you want to hear more, in which case I will recall the funny and not so funny moments from the life of Sienna cars and all the drama that went on behind the scenes.

Yours Sincerely

Alan Booth
Ex Sienna Cars owner, developer, founder, entrepreneur and eventual memory manager. Good luck to you all.

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